How Do I Get Started on the Ketogenic Diet?

[UPDATED 9.30.2016: Edited to correct paragraph 5 to read 'don't concentrate on calories" rather than "do concentrate". Thanks, Sammy, an alert reader. ;) ]

This is one of the most common questions asked when people are interested in giving a low carb/high fat, ketogenic program a try. Some want to lose body fat. Others for help in controlling pending or full blown Type II Diabetes. Still others are interested in the the benefits for endurance sports. (That's what intrigued my Lovely Mate.)

Barely a carbohydrate in sight and so yummy. (Skin on chicken thigh cooked in coconut oil, covered in Franks' Hot Sauce, home grown tomato, and mashed cauliflower with butter.)

The simple, but very true answer to the question is: leave off carbohydrates in your next meal. That simple. No bread, chips, rice, potatoes. No noodles, quinoa, oatmeal. Look at this post for a list of foods that are appropriate to eat - and what is not.

That's how you start. Then do the same for the next meal. No starches. No sugars. Same for snacks. If it's not on the page, don't eat it.

If you've been feeding yourself carbohydrates of any kind - as most of us have done for years, following what we were told was a 'healthy diet' - it will almost certainly take some time to get over cravings for carbs. Your body needs to kind of detox from the glucose bursts our liver provides us with when we're eating carbs. (read this post for a very brief description of how the ketogenic diet switches our bodies to be fat burners rather than glucose burners). Don't give in to those cravings though. Hang in. It may take a few days. Maybe longer. But the cravings will end. And then something amazing happens. You'll find that not only are you not hungry, you may forget to eat! And you'll start looking at carby foods very differently. They may actually gross you out a bit.

This doesn't mean meals are all bacon all the time. Non starchy veggies are great. Cauliflower is a superstar. We actually prefer mashed cauliflower to mashed potatoes. Leafy greens. Salad veggies. Again, look at the list. When you're first starting, don't concentrate on counting calories or stress out on portions. Eat only when hungry. Stop when sated. Leave off the starches.

Feel free to ask me any questions about what foods I eat and which I avoid. Reach out. And plan your first ketogenic meal. It's easy as pie! Uh, easy as hamburger casserole!

The information I present here is based on my own experiences and personal research. While I’ve been fortunate to have much person-to-person exposure to leading researchers, physicians and journalists regarding the ketogenic specifically and LCHF (low carb/high fat) more generally, we are all responsible for our own choices, including what we put in our mouths. I welcome questions, comments and even civil criticism. I’m still learning. So, i you have something to add, go for it. Thanks!  - Casey